Kaburagi Kiyokata (鏑木 清方, Kaburaki Kiyokata, August 31, 1878 – March 2, 1972) was a renowned Japanese artist and printmaker who played a pivotal role in the ukiyo-e revival movement. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Kiyokata began his artistic training under the tutelage of Hashimoto Gahō, a renowned master of traditional Japanese painting (Lippit, 2005). Gahō’s influence provided Kiyokata with a strong foundation in classical techniques and a deep appreciation for the aesthetics of Japanese art. However, Kiyokata was also influenced by the works of ukiyo-e masters such as Kitagawa Utamaro and Utagawa Toyokuni III, which sparked his fascination with the art form (Marks, 2012).
Kiyokata’s unique artistic style emerged from his synthesis of traditional Japanese woodblock prints with Western art techniques. He was greatly influenced by the Western concept of “art for art’s sake” and sought to apply it to ukiyo-e, creating a bridge between traditional and modern art (Lippit, 2005). This innovative approach set him apart from his contemporaries and garnered attention for his distinctive prints.
One of Kiyokata’s major influences was the shin-hanga (“new print”) movement, which emerged in the early 20th century. This movement sought to revitalize the declining ukiyo-e tradition by incorporating modern themes and techniques. Kiyokata embraced the principles of shin-hanga, particularly the emphasis on naturalistic representation and meticulous craftsmanship (Marks, 2012). His works often featured delicate lines, rich colors, and intricate patterns, reflecting the shin-hanga aesthetic.
While there is no definitive list of Kiyokata’s famous students, his influence can be seen in the works of numerous ukiyo-e artists who emerged during and after his time. Notably, the artist Itō Shinsui, known for his bijin-ga prints, was influenced by Kiyokata’s style and approach (Nihon no Bijin-ga, 2019). Shinsui’s works also focused on portraying the beauty and grace of women, drawing inspiration from Kiyokata’s bijin-ga prints.
Lippit, Y. (2005). Electric Eden: Unearthing Japan’s Visionary Art. Tokyo: Japan Society.
Marks, A. (2012). Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680-1900. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.
Nihon no Bijin-ga. (2019). [Exhibition Catalog]. Tokyo: Tokyo National Museum.